Lilly loses patent dispute over Alimta in London court

Eli Lilly and Co. lost a United Kingdom lawsuit over its Alimta cancer treatment when a judge ruled Thursday that a generic version planned by Actavis Plc doesn’t breach European patents.

Judge Richard Arnold in London rejected Lilly’s argument that Actavis’ planned pemetrexed disodium product infringed patents registered in the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Spain. Lilly said it would appeal the ruling, part of which relates to the use of vitamins.

Indianapolis-based Lilly, which had first quarter sales of $632 million from Alimta this year, has fought lawsuits across the globe to protect patents related to the product. In March, a U.S. District Court upheld a patent regarding vitamin dosage in a dispute with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.

“The significant scientific research that Lilly performed in support of those vitamin dosage regimen patents deserves intellectual property protection,” Michael J. Harrington, Lilly’s general counsel, said in an e-mailed statement. “We plan to seek permission to appeal this ruling.”

Some European patents for Alimta expire in December 2015, and Actavis is seeking regulatory approval for a rival treatment, according to a written decision by Judge Arnold handed down in London.

Lilly said in its statement that it had won an Alimta patent case in Germany earlier this year. The company said it expected European patents related to vitamin dosage to remain in force until 2021.

Actavis said the ruling was the first time an English High Court had ruled in a case involving foreign designations of a European patent.

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